Last month, a Harley-Davidson lost to the Japanese tsunami surfaced on a beach in Canada. This time, something much, much larger than a motorcycle drifted from Japan all the way to Oregon: A 66-foot-long dock that's 7-feet high and 19-feet wide, dotted with barnacles and starfish. Initially mistaken for a barge as it floated toward a beach, the dock traveled 5,000 miles across the ocean, 15 months after the 2011 tsunami in Japan.
The dock is but a tiny part of the 1.5 million tons of tsunami debris floating on the ocean. Scientists believe that more debris will continue to wash up on West Coast shores until 2014 due to ocean currents, and the country is making preparations for it. "At this point, we don't know if we're going to have a major problem," said Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition director, Phillip Johnson, amidst what he describes as "great public concern."
The dock introduced new species into Oregon waters, including a starfish that's native to Japan. Scientists are worried that some of them may be invasive and damage the local ecosystem. There are also concerns about radiation due to what happened to the Fukushima power plants, but Oregon Sea Grant educator Jamie Doyle assured that it's highly unlikely for most debris to have been exposed to it.
[Image credit: U.S. Navy]
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